Have you ever broken your smartphone and despaired at the notorious spiderweb on a smashed, unresponsive touchscreen? You don’t have to say goodbye to your device just yet. Here are our tips to salvage what's left of your smartphone.
- Prevention: make sure your data will be safe
- Recover your files with PC
- What to do if PC doesn't recognize your device
- If your screen is broken but you can still see the display
- How to unlock a broken display
- How to recover data if your screen is off
- Recovering files with AirDroid
- Recovering files with Vysor
Our smartphones contain a lot of highly sensitive data that is always wise to secure. This is easiest before something bad happens to the phone, trust us. There are several ways to do this: hide the files you want to protect, block applications to restrict access, use guest mode, back up in the cloud, or put passwords on applications.
The best way to secure all the data contained in our smartphone is to back it up. That is to say, save the data in a secure location so that we can recover them even in case of losing the device.
There are several backup apps available on Google Play where we can transfer data and back it up on our computer. In a few steps, we can keep our data safe. Don't have a favorite backup app? Check out our recommendations.
To recover data from your damaged smartphone you can count on the help of your computer. Before starting, we must activate USB debugging in the configuration of the Android device, to ensure that the smartphone will be recognized by the PC.
Recovery of images and music is quite simple. Simply connect your smartphone to your PC, activate Debug from the settings menu and use the mouse to access the different folders saved on your device. By accessing the WhatsApp folder, for example, you can hand over all images received in chat.
However, it may happen that although your PC has recognized your smartphone, you are unable to view the files saved on it. Don't worry though because, as always, on Android there is a solution to everything.
So you have a poorly functioning or out of use display, USB mode not active, or a computer that doesn't recognize your smartphone. These are all the most common problems you may face when your mobile phone is broken and you need to retrieve your data.
For those of you who have a Samsung device in your hands, remember that on the official website of the South Korean brand you can find a section called Find My mobile which not only useful for when you lose your smartphone, but also for unlocking your device with the function Unlock my screen. By accessing this function, the PC will recognize your device and you can then use the well-known Kies program to transfer your data.
If you have a device from another brand or this solution does not work, you can enter Recovery mode and use Fastboot (which does not need USB Debugging enabled). You'll then have to start a Custom Recovery with Fastboot and use shell commands to extract files.
This isn't exactly a simple solution, and needs some familiarity with working with Android, but it will allow you to solve the problems encountered and proceed with the recovery of your data from your broken smartphone.
To get familiar with Fastboot and how to use it to control your Android, check out our dedicated guide:
If you've broken your touchscreen but the display is still working (you can see it), you can fix this by using a USB OTG (On The Go) and a mouse connected to your device. A USB OTG connects mobile devices to other devices. Basically, your Android device has a mini-USB port and you need to connect this to a mouse that has a USB port. The USB OTG links these two together.
Once you have connected the mouse, you can unlock your device regardless of whether you have a pattern, PIN or password. We recommend using passwords anyways because they are highly secure.
Now that your phone is unlocked, you can connect it to your computer and either transfer the data you need to your microSD memory or connect it directly to your PC and transfer the files there.
Luckily, there are a few options available when you find yourself in this position. That said, it's important to note that these are temporary measures; to ensure that you can continue to use your device you will ultimately need to repair the screen.
The simplest method is to use your PC. Go to the "Android Device Manager" website and sign in with your Google account. If you have GPS enabled on your device, it can be detected by the web tool. In most cases, your smartphone is already registered, but you can always pair your phone with your Google account if you haven't already done so. Click on "Lock" and select "Unlock". Even with a broken display, you'll be able to access your device. Once you connect your smartphone to the PC you'll be able to transfer and back up the data on your smartphone.
If you can't see your screen, you might need to get a VNC program. There are plenty of these on the market but make sure you pick one that's safe and free. These programs move your Android interface to your PC so you can control it from there.
In order to use these programs, you'll need to download the program to your PC but also on your Android device. This is another case of prevention, as you'll struggle to install it on your Android if the screen is already dead. There are some paid programs out there too but they usually include more features than pure VNC functionality. So if you're looking for a more extensive tool, you can grab one of these instead.
AirDroid is software that connects your smartphone to your computer. You can use it from a web interface or through an application on your computer. You just have to install it on your PC and on your Android device.
Through your account, you should be able to connect to both devices. On your smartphone, you will see several icons that give you access to features such as file transfer or app uninstalling. You can take a look at the different options but the one we're looking for is the Backup.
Make sure you use the same login details and go to your phone and press the save button. You can also go through the application: click the name of your device in the left menu and click the Backup menu within the three tabs at the top. Your data will then be saved onto the computer.
Plus: AirDroid also allows you to see your notifications on the computer.
Vysor also allows you to use your Android phone from a desktop computer. It works through an extension for Chrome, which has a clear advantage: you can use Vysor on Windows, Mac and Linux. A simple USB cable connects the phone and desktop.
You can use Vysor's basic functions with the free version. With it you can, for example, connect the devices to take screenshots from Android. With the paid version, screen quality is better, full-screen display is available and data transfer can be performed by dragging and dropping all without a cable connection.
Application setup is simple. We found it to be occasionally slow and, as mentioned above, the image quality is not optimal in the free version.
AirDroid is probably the best way to use your smartphone from your PC because it offers more than Vysor. Perhaps TeamViewer also deserves a place in this list but unfortunately, it does not work with many Android devices.
If you still can't get your data
Another solution for getting your data off your phone is to take it to a shop that can fix it. Yes, this option costs money but you'll not only have your data but also have a fixed phone.
Make sure you ask around for a reputable repair shop. Once the phone has been repaired, they can easily steal your data. If you go to one of the big dealers, you'll probably pay more but you're also less likely to get ripped off.
Have you recovered data from a broken smartphone? Let us know how in the comments.